TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida Senate today voted to pass Senate Bill 404, which requires minors to obtain parental consent in order to access abortion care. SB 404 forces young people to obtain notarized written consent from a parent or legal guardian or receive a judicial waiver from a court in order to end their pregnancy even though Florida law already requires parental notification.
The companion House version of this bill, HB 265, has passed its committee hearings and is on the verge of being moved to a House floor vote.
Kara Gross, legislative director, ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:
“Today is a sad day for the future of abortion access in Florida. The Senate, along party lines, has voted to pass an unconstitutional bill banning abortions for minors unless the minor can convince the state to allow them to have an abortion. This bill makes the State the final decision maker of whether a young person has to continue her pregnancy or become an underage single mom. We expect the House will pass the bill as well, and the Governor has stated his desire to sign it into law.
“Despite what sponsors of SB 404 have said, this bill is not about ensuring parental advice or guidance. It is about politicians creating a system where minors will be forced to have children against their will and stripping young people of their constitutionally protected right to end an unintended pregnancy. Let’s be very clear, this bill is not about protecting minors, it’s about banning access to safe and legal abortion, just as our southern neighboring states have done.
“Minors who are pregnant and have good relationships with their parents already seek out their help and support. This bill would impact those minors who do not have supportive relationships with their parents or guardians and puts them at risk of greater harm. For this reason, leading health care professionals have opposed mandating parental consent for years. Why are our legislators ignoring the recommendations of leading health care professionals?
“For the past 15 years, Florida Statutes have strictly required that physicians notify parents of their minor’s intent to end a pregnancy prior to any abortion care services being provided. There has been absolutely no evidence presented by the sponsor that physicians are not following current laws and that parents are not being notified or that minors are not already involving their parents.
“The bottom line is that mandating a parent’s consent to end a pregnancy or forcing minors to plead their case to a judge is unconstitutional and harmful to minors. There is absolutely nothing preventing parents from having conversations with their children as frequently as they desire about sexual intercourse, birth control, unintended pregnancy, parenting, abortion, childbirth, foster care, or any other topic.
“This bill won’t result in better family communication. It will result in more minors being forced to have children against their will.”